What makes up the nervous system?

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Your nervous system is made up of a complex network of nerves and cells that coordinates its actions and sensory information by transmitting signals to and from different parts of your body.

These sensory signals alert your nerves to changes in your environment. In working together with your endocrine system, your nervous system then reacts to these changes.

Your nervous system consists of:

  1. The central nervous system, which is made up of your brain and spinal cord
  2. The peripheral nervous system, which is made up of the somatic and autonomic nervous system

Neurons are specialised conductor cells that receive and transmit electrochemical nerve impulses.

The central nervous system

Your brain is made up of the brain stem, cerebrum, cerebellum and diencephalon. Neurons and neuroglia are nerve cells that can be found in your brain. You will also find grey matter and white matter in your brain.

Neurons and neuroglia are found in the grey matter, which receives and stores impulses. White matter carries impulses to and from grey matter and consist of nerve fibres.

You can also find conduction pathways in the midbrain and pons. These pathways allow signals to be sent from one part of your brain to the other.

Your brain stem can be found between the pons and your spinal cord. It is only an inch long.

Your cerebrum is situated on the brain stem and, taking up most of your brain, the cerebrum is divided into two hemispheres. The left hemisphere controls the activities on the right side of your body. The right hemisphere controls the activities on the left side of your body.

You can find the cerebellum behind and below the cerebrum.

The diencephalon is located in front of the brain stem. It consists of the thalamus and the hypothalamus. The thalamus is where your senses and impulses come together. The hypothalamus is responsible for releasing hormones.

Your spinal cord extends from your brain. It is made up of a series of 31 segments, each with a pair of spinal nerves. Your motor and sensory nerves are found in your spinal cord.

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The peripheral nervous system

Your somatic nervous system is made up of peripheral nerve fibres that pick up sensory signals from organs situated away from your brain, like your limbs. They then carry the signals to the central nervous system.

Motor nerve fibres in the peripheral nervous system come out of your brain and take the signals for movement and necessary action to your skeletal muscles.

Your autonomic nervous system is made up of the sympathetic nervous system, parasympathetic nervous system and enteric nervous system. It controls the nerves of your inner organs, like your heartbeat, digestion and breathing.

Neurons and nerve fibres send sensory signals through your organs, brain and spinal cord to allow your body to react when the environment around it changes. This is called the nervous system. It is made up of the central and peripheral nervous systems, which are responsible for transmitting signals from outside and around the inside of your body.

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